Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Many Uses of Whiskey

There are not many places more disgusting than a fresh pig pen. It's messy, and not the "fun kind" of messy. Inside my old barn the muck was flying. No matter how careful I was it got in my hair, on my glasses, under my fingernails and in the corners of my mouth. I smelled pig shit. I smelled like pig shit. And every article of clothing I was wearing might as well be burned and its ashes scattered over some unholy site to ward off evil spirits. Cthulhu himself would cower at the things I forked into that garden cart.

You wouldn't think this to look at the pig pen. Hell, the pigs that lived in there didn't even know about the truth below their layers of clean straw bedding. What looks like a benign coating of dry hay is just the surface. Stick a pitchfork in there and you'll uncover about a foot-deep layer of mud, urine-turned-ammonia soaked hay, and smoking wet manure. I filled six garden carts with a couple hundred pounds of the compact goo with a stiff upper lip. I tried to think about what it would look like in a few months, how it would mound around the potato hills and be a valuable asset to the farm. Compost is good. Pig compost is some of the best. Silver linings, etc.

It was still disgusting. But hey, beats a day at someone else's office. Hands down.

I have new piglets coming soon, being delivered in a few days if I can haggle a good deal. After the pen was cleaned out it would get a few layers of pine shavings to soak up anything nasty and then a proper layer of clean straw. Between that and some cleaned out buckets and feeding pans I was ready to take on some new chargers. I already named them Rye and Whiskey. The reason being that as soon as I came inside the farmhouse I stripped naked, washed my hands, and then poured myself a finger of bourbon and gurgled with it. I spit it out, along with whatever pig poo demons resided in it, into the sink. My mouth burned that blessed burning of dying bacteria and I felt a lot better.

A hot shower and I was good as new. New piglets are a good thing. Very, very good. And as if their arrival wasn't enough there are goat kids about to pop out any second! Kid Watch 2013 has begun. I have bottles on the ready, towels handy, and high hopes. This is going to be one busy week ahead...


Blogger DFW said...

We have a barrel of horse poo that got 'wet'. It has turned into horse poo tea. I spent last weekend 'dishing' out the wet poo (w/shovel & upside down milk jug cut in 1/2) & putting it in the compost bin & spread on the garden beds. I just kept telling myself not to think about what I was 'shoveling'.

March 2, 2013 at 7:02 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

Curious why you plan to bottle-feed your goats... I never have, and my kids are very sociable. I was able to milk their mama after about 10 days, she had SO much milk.

March 2, 2013 at 7:37 PM  
Blogger Kelsie said...

Now pour yourself another finger of bourbon, and this time, don't spit it out!

March 2, 2013 at 8:31 PM  
Blogger kristen said...

Good luck with the bottle feeding -- it's a lot of work. I'm with Michelle - I've done it both ways (mama feeding, me feeding), and everyone turned out just fine. In fact, the mama-fed goatlings were bigger, though I can't say for sure that was due to nursing. The doe who fed two kids gave an amazing amount of milk and we didn't feel any lack.

March 3, 2013 at 2:29 AM  
Blogger Cary said...

I'm curious about what you feed your pigs now that you aren't collecting food waste from the cafeteria where you worked. That was such an inspirational use of veg waste. Thanks.

March 3, 2013 at 5:47 AM  
Blogger anton said...

Have you thought about letting the goat raise her kids and milking once a day? It's a great timesaver. I keep the kids with the does during the day, separate them at night, milk in the morning and then reunite them. It saves me a ton of work and I still have enough milk left over for cheese, yogurt and drinking. I usually start the process 7-14 days after she freshens.

March 3, 2013 at 9:49 AM  
Blogger Brenda London said...

periodically you may want to sprinkle lime on the bedding before topping it off with straw, it neutralizes the ammonia that can be deadly. Also, you do not have to empty the pen of all bedding until spring or so when you need it. it will compost nicely right in the pen and help keep piglets warm with the heat it generates. This is a small farm practice that separates the compulsive barn cleaning types from the rest of us! same thing with chicken coops, once a year is good for cold climates, clean in spring, the winter buildup keeps the chickens warmer than the clean floors will. (I do remember doing that as a kid, yuck, once a year was more than enough). of course all this depends on your animals being healthy that were in the pen, like yours are, but having "experienced" bedding also helps the babes immunity systems to develop to avoid using antibiotics.

March 3, 2013 at 2:46 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth from the Berkshires said...

The time I had to fish three drowned mice out of the dehumidifier tank I most certainly had a chaser of scotch. It's the only disinfectant that can chase the last of the ick factor away.

March 4, 2013 at 8:33 PM  

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